New camera – Canon EOS 400D

I’ve finally bought a camera that’ll enable me to take clear pics of flowers and wee creatures when I’m out walking. It’s a Canon EOS 400D.

I’ve never had an SLR before, and it seems to be horrendously complicated. All this stuff about F stops and lenses and goodness knows what. If anyone knows of any links to simple idiot-proof guides to learning the basics then please let me know.

Also, I’m planning to take it backpacking. Are the blue CCS cases the best ones for that sort of thing? I used to have a couple but they don’t seem to be so widely available these days. Maybe there’s something better around now.

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12 Responses to New camera – Canon EOS 400D

  1. Welcome back to blogging!

    SLR’s can seem complicated but once you’ve worked out the basics the results can be superb. I don’t know of any web guides that are very simple – there’s an awful lot of stuff on the web and some of it is very unhelpful! However a good book is Andy Rouse’s Digital SLR Handbook (Photographers Institute Press).

    I’ve been using Canon DSLRs for several years and currently have a 450D. If you have any specific questions I’m happy to try and answer them.

  2. peewiglet says:

    Hi Chris, and thanks 🙂

    I’ll look out that book. Thanks for the recommendation. In the enthusiasm of the moment I ordered a Dummies guide from Amazon with the camera, as it’s specifically about the D400. It seems a little impenetrable for a Dummies guide, though: I suppose (and perhaps this is fair enough) it assumes some knowledge of SLRs, and is mainly directed at telling peeps who already know the basics how to use this particular one.

    In fact, I do have a very specific question, and advice would be much appreciated. I’ve read that the lens that comes with the D400 (an EFS 18-55) isn’t very good. I’m sure it’s a lot better than what I’ve been using, but since I’ve got a ‘real’ camera now I’d like to be sure I’m using a lens that will allow me to get the best out of it. I’ve looked on a Canon forum where people are friendly and helpful, but they know so much that I couldn’t understand the answers.

    Is it possible for you to give a bit of guidance on what sort of lens I might get to replace the one I’ve got? I don’t mean a make necessarily (although a specific recommendation would be very welcome) but even just in general terms. You know all about the sorts of things one sees backpacking, of course, and I’d like to be able to take good pics both of general views and also–in particular, really–of small things like flowers and insects. People have suggested a macro lens, but I would prefer to get something that will be good for both of those purposes. I don’t want to have to be swapping lenses over while I’m backpacking, for a range of fairly obvious reasons.

    Any help very gratefully received 🙂

  3. The EF-S 18-55 is actually a very good lens. I think much of the criticism of it is due to snobbery – it’s “only” a kit lens, it’s not a pro lens and the like – rather than its performance. For backpacking it’s ideal because it’s so light – any alternative will weigh much more. I used the original 18-55 on the 300D and 350D and took many images that have appeared in TGO, other magazines (including Outdoor Photography) and books. No editors have complained about the picture quality. At the 55mm end it’s also good for close-ups of small things.

    Rather than replace the 18-55 you might eventually want to add to it – either a telephoto like the EF-S 55-250 or a wide angle like the Canon 10-22 or the Tamron 11-18. I have the 55-250 and the 11-18 but most of my pictures are still taken with the 18-55.

    More important than the lens is the image quality and the processing. It might be a jump too far at this stage but it’s worth considering shooting raw files rather than JPEGs as you can then control the processing when you “develop” the raw file. With JPEGs the camera does the processing for you. If taking JPEGs it’s worth experimenting with the camera settings – saturation, contrast, sharpness etc. These make a big difference to how the final image looks.

  4. peewiglet says:

    Ah, well that’s very good news, thanks. I definitely don’t want to have to carry something heavier if the one I’ve got is fine.

    Thanks for the info re: JPEG v. raw files. I’ll look into that too.

  5. paul says:

    Hello,

    As Chris say the “kit” lens is fine for what you need. People can be quite sniffy about lens. More fool them.

    FWIW I’d say it be best to get to know your camera first before you even think about buying another lens, as you could end up with something that you find you don’t really use. I would also say that shooting with Jpeg for now maybe best, as I dont think you really want to add to the learning curve by using RAW.

    As for Macro lens, nice buy can be heavy and you really need a tripod, unless you have a steady hand. If you do find that “Lens Lust” has taken ahold Tamron make a nice 17-50 F2.8 that would a nice replacement for your kit lens.

    Anyways nice to see your back posting.

  6. peewiglet says:

    Hello Paul,

    Many thanks for the info, and kind words. This camera stuff has a very steep learning curve for those of us who know nothing about it. It’s reassuring that both you and Chris say the kit lens is fine. Still, I think I’ll just go and take a wee peep at the nice Tamron that you’ve mentioned… 🙂

  7. Red Yeti says:

    I agree with Chris T (as usual!) that the 18-55 is a nice lens. But the lens that might just as well be glued to the front of my 400D is the Canon 10-22 (that he also mentions).

    Rather than repeat myself there are some ramblings on my rambling area (and a link to the cheapest place I could find the lens):

    http://drw.me.uk/RedYeti/about-the-pictures/

    I’d suggest taking pictures in “P” mode at first. That gives you some control and the ability to take in RAW (which I regret not doing sooner).

    Then, once you’re more comfy with the SLR, move over to “T”. That lets you fix the exposure but it handles the depth of field. Try using the longest exposure you can without getting camera shake (this can be visible even at 125th of a second and slower – and is hard to discern on the screen of the camera so beware!).

    You can switch over to “A” to get a deeper depth of field if required for a shot but with the camera controlling the shutter speed you have to watch out for camera shake.

    Apart from “M” (fully manual) the rest of the settings can usually be ignored in my opinion!

    And always remember that hard disks are like light bulbs – they have a finite life and are fully expected to fail. So back-up your images!

    I’d suggest Jungle Disk as the easiest thing for that – but that’s a whole other subject and this little comment isn’t so little any more…

  8. peewiglet says:

    Finally it’s arrived 🙂

    Many thanks for the detailed help. This stuff is all enormously helpful to me at the moment.

    What you’ve advised about ‘P’ and then ‘T’ and also RAW: does that apply to SLRs generally, or just to this lens? (Well, I realise the RAW advice applies to SLRs generally, I think, but I’m not sure yet whether the other two relate to that lens.)

    *trots to your site*

  9. peewiglet says:

    p.s. further question, after reading your page (which was v. informative, ta!)

    Would I be able to get close flower and wee creature pics with a 10-22 lens? Bear in mind that I still know virtually nothing, but I thought the higher the second number the closer it was possible to get to small things. Is the 10-22 lens better for landscapes?

  10. Red Yeti says:

    My P and T type ramblings above are not to do with the lens. They just determine what you control and what the camera controls.

    RAW – that’s a whole other subject. It just means that the camera records everything it sees on to the memory card. Otherwise it squashes it and throws away a lot of data when creating a JPEG file. RAW images are roughly the size of the image capturing bit (10 megapixel camera means 10mb RAW image). Whereas when you tell it to output to JPEG they end up at about 30% of that. The other 70% is thrown away since the human eye doesn’t see it. But if you want to brighten/darken/colour adjust the image then the program you use to develop the image needs all that information to work with. You do need a RAW file editor to develop them though (Google’s Picasa can handle the 400D RAW files as it happens but it’s not a “proper” RAW editor – it’s not got the options. It’s more for organising and doing basic changes. But it’s excellent never the less and free).

    The 10-22 isn’t rated explicitly as a macro lens. Though it does get to within 24cm. And with that many megapixels (10.1 in a 400D) you can crop the pictures down to zoom in. In fact that’s a better option than using the “enhanced zoom” on cheaper cameras since you avoid camera shake!

    However – the 10-22 is best for landscapes. It’s a fantastic lens.

    Take a look at the pic on this for instance

    http://drw.me.uk/RedYeti/2007/11/12/hydration-system-taste-off/

    You need a wide angle to capture that sky. (Damn that hydration taste-off was an anal posting!)

    I really must go and pack for this wedding…

  11. peewiglet says:

    Thanks again, RY 🙂

    I was planning to get started with JPGs and then move to RAW, but I’ll have another think.

    As for that 10-22 lens, I spent about an hour last night drooling over sample pictures on the Canon forum. I can see why you speak so highly of it. I’d love one. They’re expensive, though *swoons*

    They have a lot of sample images for a big range of lenses (not just Canon) over on that forum, and it’s enormously useful. There may be a number of threads, but the one I’ve been looking at is here.

    I also looked at some samples from the EF-S 55-250 f/4-5.6 IS. In quality terms it doesn’t match up to the 10-22, but people seem to feel that for a ‘budget’ and relatively lightweight zoom it does a great job. I assume it must be long and difficult to hold still, though. These things are all swings and roundabouts, of course 🙂

  12. Red Yeti says:

    The 250 is quite long when fully extended but the IS (Image Stabilisation) is something I sorely miss in the 10-22. It’s very useful. Definitely lets you work in lower light when hand held.

    Ultimately it’s the wide-angle I like so much for landscapes. Though for pictures in a restaurant it’s surprisingly useful. Getting everyone around a table in frame, even those that think they’re well out of range, is great.

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